Alumni Spotlight: Emma Weatherford, Class of 2015

CDA's influence now extends to one of the world's oldest and most prestigious schools of tropical medicine, the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (LSHTM). As a Fulbright Scholar, Emma is studying the interface between human, animal, and environmental health in a master's program jointly administered by the LSHTM and the Royal Veterinary College. The MSc in One Health is a holistic study of infectious diseases and contemporary strategies for fighting them. Emma's interest in the medical field took root in Mrs. Ligon's freshman biology class, but her preparation began in her early years at CDA.
Describe some valuable parts of your CDA education
The teachers! When I was in grammar school, not thinking great thoughts about being a servant-leader, the teachers provided an example of what Christian living and servant-leadership looks like. My CDA teachers invested deeply in the lives of all students, and I am grateful for their influence.

The University-Model® helped me develop self-discipline. From 1st through 12th grade this model, by design, slowly shifted from my parents’ intense oversight to me taking ownership; I learned how to manage my academic and extra-curricular activities. Thus, the collaborative model was a critical part of doors opening to me in many areas of my life.

The communication training from Ms. Loe, Dr. Heitschmidt, Mrs. Powell, Mrs. Colvin, and Mrs. Blair has proved invaluable. Knowing how to write a paper and give a presentation were second nature by the time I arrived at college. The same skills are required to write a lab report or an English paper. Having the ability to stand and speak to any audience has provided many opportunities for learning and service.

Explain your undergraduate degree
As a University Scholars major, I pursued a multifaceted pre- medical education. This degree plan gave me substantial freedom in choosing courses. The combination of science and humanities classes allowed me to study medicine from different angles. My science courses taught me to consider human beings as organisms with well-regulated and predictable natural processes. In the Medical Humanities department, I learned to think of both the patient and the doctor as persons subject to influences and needs that cannot be reduced to physical processes.

And in my Great Texts courses, I learned to place disease within the context of a full human life. While reading Boethius’ masterpiece The Consolation of Philosophy, I discovered that the great questions – “What is the good life?” “What is justice?” – are not merely toys for the privileged but indeed of the utmost importance to the suffering.

Serving in Kenya
I have had the honor of working with the Straw to Bread team on the Nyakach Plateau in western Kenya. This work began with a medical mission trip and has blossomed into a partnership including a school, hospital, women’s health programs, and clean air and clean water projects. It’s about Christians, from two different continents, coming together.

Lisa Baker, MD PhD, Executive Director of Straw to Bread and Baylor professor, expressed her own observations of Emma and gratitude to CDA:

CDA launched Emma as a spectacular student who believes that education is nothing less than a great privilege. She took class discussion to a whole new level, and I have never heard presentations so eloquently delivered. Currently, the best school of Tropical Medicine in the world is shaping her to be a leader in Global Health. But before that, Emma went with my team three times to work with a Kenyan community in a destitute, remote area of the country. She was soon brimming over with love for “the least of these”, and she flourished in a world where she could serve people who suffer from hunger and dire poverty. Emma stood out among other awesome students because her leadership style was to rush to sign up for the most difficult jobs and to be the first to ask, “What else needs to be done?” The delightful thing about Emma is that her humility keeps her from knowing that she is a superstar. Emma’s intellectual and spiritual brilliance have prepared Emma to make a difference in our world. She is a disciplined scientist in her professional goals, she is a discerning student in her inner work, and she is an artist with her life. Thanks, CDA!

Why medicine?
What I love about medicine is the moral clarity. You have a patient and you’re going to help and advocate for that patient as much as you can. There’s no question of whether they deserve it or not. And, I know as a patient, how much it means to have a doctor walk with you through a really alarming part of life, to be your fearless leader and tell you how things are going to work. I really want to do that for other people.

“I count knowing Emma Weatherford as one of the greatest privileges I have had in my time in higher education. She is keenly intelligent, deeply thoughtful, kind, generous with her time, and a faithful friend and mentor to all who know her. Her life exemplifies our calling to love the Lord with heart, mind, soul, and strength. Her joy in learning is evident to all who encountered her, and in her, we see what it means to love the Lord with our minds. Her study is not merely learning for learning’s sake. Rather, her desire is to grow in knowledge and wisdom so that she might better serve God’s kingdom and those around her. She models the life of a faithful student who embraces the opportunities she has been given to pursue higher education and does so as an act of stewardship of her many gifts.”

– Dr. Jason Whitt, Baylor professor, Emma’s advisor for her Honors Thesis, co-director of the William Carey Crane’s Scholars Program, and Faculty Steward for the Honors Residential College
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